Every year millions of Americans gather with friends and family to celebrate Thanksgiving. Homes are filled with food and laughter. For some, there may even be some family drama after time spent. Either way, Thanksgiving is a time to come together and be thankful for what we have. This year has been a trying year for so many. Far too many Americans are worried about job security and recovering from the devastating effects of natural disasters, and are feeling just an overall sense of dread when observing our “leaders” in Washington, D.C. For the first time in many people’s lives, they are reading the newspapers and watching the evening news to get a better sense as to how our government works and where we are headed as a nation.
As we take time to pause and reflect this Thanksgiving season, let us remember to be thankful for all of the things we have, as well as all of the things that we do not have that we do not want!
As I look at the recent events unfolding at Standing Rock Reservation in South Dakota, I am reminded that just one year ago hundreds of Native-Americans and their allies were protesting the Keystone Pipeline. They feared that building the pipeline on sacred land held environmental risks that would be dangerous for their community and many other communities. As some may remember, hundreds of protestors were shot with high-powered water cannons, arrested and seriously injured by militias and also U.S. officers sworn to protect all citizens. Unfortunately, the news surrounding the Standing Rock protests did not make national news for long, even though the protesters braved cold winter months to protect the land. Unsurprisingly, one year later, the pipeline has sprung a leak and more than 210,000 gallons of oil has already seeped into the land. The fears of so many protestors have materialized, and the land will never be the same.
This Thanksgiving, if we are lucky enough to be able to gather with friends and family, let us remember those who do not have individuals with whom to share this holiday. Let us remember those in nursing homes, incarcerated, homeless or separated from their families and unable to travel. If you are able to donate your time to volunteer, please do so. However, if you are unable, a few dollars donated to a soup kitchen or a religious institution will assist them in feeding families in need.
Let us also remember the indigenous people of this land who have suffered so much since the first settlers set foot on their soil. Thanksgiving is a joyous occasion for many, but definitely not all. We must keep the struggles of our native brothers and sisters at the forefront of our minds as we reflect on our blessings this Thanksgiving season.
Christina Greer, Ph.D., is an associate professor at Fordham University, the author of “Black Ethnics: Race, Immigration, and the Pursuit of the American Dream” and the host of The Aftermath on Ozy.com. You can find her on Twitter @Dr_CMGreer.